Non-reducing Polyphasic Schedules

Compared to other traditional polyphasic schedules with the added benefit of reducing the hours spent in bed each day, polyphasic lifestyles with no reduction in total sleep have been around for a very long time. Segmented sleep in the pre-industrial era features a normal amount of sleep that adds up to the total amount of sleep in monophasic sleep today1. Medical students were also observed to sleep biphasically without reducing their total sleep2. Currently, non-reducing polyphasic patterns exist in the form of Biphasic sleep, multiple sleeps per day or random sleep schedules that involve more than one sleep each day. Total sleep is equivalent to that of monophasic sleep

For the purpose of differentiation, reducing schedules refer to any sleep schedules that reduce the amount of time spent in bed in comparison with personal monophasic sleep need. 

OVERALL MECHANISM

The clear cut mechanism of this sleeping scheme is currently not fully understood. Polyphasic principles that do apply to other traditional schedules may or may not apply to non-reducing sleep schedules. Common rules regarding diet and lifestyle may also be different for non-reducing sleep schedules. However, main ideas such as repartitioning and compression of sleep can still be applied in some schedules. A sleeper who is monophasic for their life will still need an adaptation process to finally adapt to a non-reducing sleep pattern if its structure is vastly different from monophasic. Such examples include 3 core sleeps of 2h40m (8 hours total sleep as Triphasic-extended), 4 core sleeps of 2 hours, 2 core sleeps of 4 hours (8 hours sleep total as Segmented sleep), etc. However, it is generally remarked that the adaptation process is much easier because sleep deprivation as a primary stimulus is nowhere near that of other schedules that reduce total sleep. Entirely random polyphasic schedules that have no definite shape or form theoretically require no adaptation at all (and unable to reach adapted state either), since there are no records of anyone managing to adapt to alternating schedules. Due to the erratic and self-fulfilling nature of random schedules, the body will wake up on its own in the last sleep of the day when a sufficient amount of REM and SWS is met from previous sleep(s). Check unadvisable schedules for more information.

NON-REDUCING BIPHASIC SLEEP 

BIPHASIC-X

  • Proposed by: GeneralNguyen
  • Total sleep: ~7-9 hours (depending on individual monophasic sleep need)
  • Classification: Biphasic, Flexible, Non-reducing Polyphasic Sleep
  • Specification: 1 long core sleep, naps with varying lengths or consistent length depending on days, NREM1/NREM2 nap if duration is short (< ~25-30m), contains SWS/REM if duration is longer (> 60m)
  • Mechanics: 1 core sleep, 1 nap as main form. More than 1 core sleep or 1 nap (reduce total sleep) is allowed on busier days. Recovery day is done afterwards to recover from sleep deprivation (increase total sleep by extending either core length or nap length in Biphasic form) to keep up napping habits. Both core sleep and nap(s) are flexible and can be moved around to a degree to ensure circadian rhythm is preserved. 
  • Adaptation difficulty: Very easy, but adapted state is unknown
  • Ideal scheduling: Consistent dark period everyday, core sleep starts 1-2 hours after dark period. Nap during daytime, no later than 6 PM. 
  • Former schedule name: Prototype X, Experimental X

This schedule is named to differentiate itself from other established biphasic patterns on the site. X denotes unknown potentials that biphasic sleeping can provide and opens up new possibilities for the viability of polyphasic sleeping. 

This flexible Biphasic schedule contains 2 sleeps per day (for the vast majority of days) without reducing the total time spent in bed. For example, a person who needs 8 hours of sleep each day can have a 6 hour core sleep at night and 2 hour siesta during the day. It has a lot of variations and flexibility in scheduling and has actually been done in the past in a way or another. For example, the experimenters reported certain positive results3 – sleeping 4 hours at night and 2 hours during the day (resembling Siesta), or 2 4-hour blocks (resembling Segmented sleep) was tested and results were shown to be positive short-term. Regarding daily lifestyle, many may find themselves naturally biphasic sleepers with a main core sleep at night that covers most or all of their SWS and REM need, complemented with a nap of varying lengths during the day depending on how sleepy they are

One reason why people come to polyphasic sleeping and attempt other sleep-reducing schedules is to gain more wake time each day, not knowing that non-reducing polyphasic schedules are also viable alternatives. Thus, there have been few official attempts for this schedule that have been fully logged and reported up to date (all of which are at least somewhat positive experiences), due to the unappealing aspect of not being able to reduce a lot of hours spent sleeping. However, it has the potential to naturally reduce a tiny amount of total sleep each day with entrained biphasic sleeping and dark period; this theory still requires a big enough sample size to confirm if some sleep reduction is possible. 

This schedule applies most of the fundamental concepts of polyphasic sleeping while having flexibility of its own:

  • Most days contain 2 sleep blocks, with the main core sleep at night sustaining wakefulness for a long period of time while having added benefits of a nap during the day for a quick refresh.
  • Short nap lengths (> 10 minutes and < ~25-30 minutes) contain only light sleep to sustain wakefulness into later times of the day. Longer sleep blocks (> 60 minutes) do contain both SWS and REM. Although there is no REM sleep in short naps, being able to fall asleep and getting some NREM2 is still beneficial for some recovery effect and aid in memory and learning with alertness boost.
  • Busier days allow for some sleep reduction in the main core sleep and more than one nap can be added to the schedule to maintain alertness level (detaching from Biphasic form and becoming different polyphasic forms such as E2, E3, etc but only on very few occasions). As a result of this, some following days are spent in recovery mode for extra sleep, done by either lengthening the nap or the core sleep (maintaining Biphasic form).
  • The schedule fits most normal lifestyles that welcome taking a nap during daytime and learning to nap to later transition into other sleep-reducing polyphasic schedules with familiarized napping habits. Night sleep is the primary focus for health benefits and a daytime nap that fits into the circadian rhythm of natural energy dip in the afternoon or around noon. It also favors people who cannot nap at the same time everyday.
  • The ideal setup would be having a fixed core length at night and a fixed time of when to nap and keeping consistent sleep times as often as possible. However, sleep times can be different on a daily basis with small variation if necessary as well.
  • A consistent daily dark period is used to stabilize the circadian rhythm, starting at the same time everyday. Currently there are a couple polyphasic sleepers in the community who stay on this schedule for extra flexibility while getting a chance to learn to nap and recharge from a nap during the daytime; they also reported to have very few issues with the schedule. The main structure sets this schedule up with extra protection for night sleep by avoiding any sleep past ~6 PM to facilitate falling asleep at night.
  • During recovery days to recover from lost sleep or sickness, it is also necessary to have night sleep placed after dark period has started some time like normal days to not mess up dark period and night sleep timing. If dark period for example is set at 10 PM, place the night sleep at no earlier than 11 PM for all days regardless of sickness. 

With enough time and certain consistency in sleeping twice per day, ideally the sleeper will become accustomed to biphasic sleeping, being able to wake up from both the core sleep and daytime nap without using any alarms even with different sleep times each day, without messing up night sleep or affecting quality of the daytime nap. Total sleep time will also become consistent with only small variations from day to day. NOTE: Biphasic-X is not to be confused with Random Biphasic where a sleeper would sleep twice everyday whenever they want, without any regards for circadian rhythm. This is ill-advised and should not be attempted. 

The first detailed report as proof that this schedule works in the long term can be found here (45 days)4. A follow-up (~20 days after the first report) can be found here9.

This schedule currently has some unknown adaptation mechanics that require further explanation and these mechanics are potentially very different from those of other reducing polyphasic schedules. Therefore, more data is needed from other experimenters to clearly determine how adaptation progresses and whether an adapted state akin to that of reducing sleep schedules is achievable, even though the schedule is sustainable by itself and can be maintained indefinitely.   

OTHER NON-REDUCING BIPHASIC SCHEDULES

These schedules fit the underage group, who need more sleep than adults, or those who prefer consistent sleep times. They have consistent nap and core lengths everyday. Sleep times of these schedules should be strictly followed everyday for optimal sleep quality. Adaptation on these schedules go through 4 stages like other reducing schedules, however, adaptation difficulty is deemed much milder due to a high total sleep time. Note that these schedules are based on the total sleep time in individual monophasic sleep. If your personal total sleep is higher than the numbers shown in the schedules above, then these biphasic schedules should add more sleep to accommodate your personal sleep needs. After adaptation, flexibility in sleep times can be done without much difficulty and heavy exercising is also tolerable without needing extra sleep. 

The difference between these specific biphasic schedules and Biphasic-X is that these schedules are consistent and keep their forms through everyday. If E1-extended is the schedule of choice then the sleeper will follow that protocol and consistency for everyday, always with a long core sleep at night and a 20m nap by default. Biphasic-X can contain purely 20m naps, or any other nap lengths that suit personal need and situations (e.g, 15m, or 10m naps if nap duration has to be reduced on certain days). 

NON-REDUCING POLYPHASIC SLEEP 

Triphasic-extended

4 Sleeps Per Day

In this category, there are more than 2 sleeps per day on a regular basis with strict sleep times (to differentiate from Random sleep in the next section). These schedules have a major downside of requiring more than two sleeps per day without reducing total sleep time, which is one of the biggest perks of polyphasic sleeping. It is also much harder to accommodate the necessary lifestyles to afford these sleeping patterns with a lot of sleep distributed throughout the day, even though it is possible to pull off in some cases. Adaptation to these schedules is also necessary, making it another big con. Sleep architecture is different by a large margin compared to monophasic sleep, so the body needs time to learn to sleep in shorter chunks to finally be able to wake up without any alarm support. However, the adaptation process is for the most part a lot easier than the traditional versions (e.g, 4.5-hour Triphasic), thanks to a high total sleep. Eventually, repartitioning and sleep compression will be completed in each sleep. The general argument as to why such schedules can be more effective than monophasic sleep is that the sleeper has more chance to experience vivid dreams with shorter sleeps once adapted and allow more room for heavy physical exercise with the extra sleep for recovery. 

RANDOM

  • Proposed by: N/A
  • Total sleep: As much as you need
  • Classification: Flexible, Non-reducing Polyphasic/Monophasic Sleep
  • Specification: N/A
  • Mechanics: Unlimited flexibility, sleep whenever tired, whatever nap or core length until auto-wake or alarm. Dark period, BRAC or circadian rhythm application are optional. No sleep for a day or two then sleep a lot more than usual afterwards is possible. 
  • Adaptation difficulty: Very easy
  • Ideal scheduling: Sleep whenever feeling tired enough, some days or all days can be polyphasic with at least 2 sleeps or monophasic with random added naps on certain days

This schedule consists of any polyphasic schedules or subpatterns that do not reduce total sleep while impossible to be categorized into any specific sleep patterns that have already been established. This type of polyphasic sleep has been documented in one study3. However, in that study, the investigated sleepers were those who slept and woke up after short periods of time (coined as Random-living schedule by Claudio Stampi) and they slept at unusual times during the day, which is a rarer Random variant of sleeping with multiple short core sleeps (~2h). 

Random denotes sleeping whenever tired, regardless of core or nap lengths and can be done at any time during the day. Usually, Random consists of monophasic sleep at irregular times, and sometimes adding additional nap(s) or core(s) at irregular hours. Lifestyles that benefit from completely random schedules are extremely busy/motivated career professionals, work shift rotations and constant travelling or work that demands continuous changes in sleep times. Sleep times are barely ever consistent and the daily activities are barely consistent either – meal times, sleep-wake times vary on a daily basis. However, to a less extreme extent, Random can be made more consistent with a monophasic schedule on some days (more consistent sleep times), and some kind of Biphasic or polyphasic schedule for a couple other days (adding naps during the day when necessary). 

It is not recommended to pursue this kind of sleep, even with the infinite flexibility it provides. It usually ignores the basic principles of good sleep and sleep hygiene practices, because these sleepers are usually not invested into preparing for their sleep (e.g, dark period is inconvenient if sleep times are rotated in a completely chaotic manner everyday). The concept of night and day can eventually become indistinguishable. 

As a result, too much disturbance in circadian rhythm will develop and can lead to breast cancer5 and circadian rhythm disorder as a result of symptoms akin to shift work or jet-lag types. This in return causes insomnia, more interrupted sleep when sleeping at unusual times and poor quality sleep as the body is confused by the extreme changes in sleep-wake hours6. Having irregular sleep times and meal times also randomizes Zeitgebers (circadian rhythm cues), likely turns the overall sleep schedule into a free-running type (non-24h circadian rhythm)7 and causes free-running disorder. More importantly, it is worth noting that irregular sleep-wake cycles can potentially lead to poorer academic performances as sleep is continually delayed and clashes with class times, resulting in constant daytime sleepiness, lack of productivity and possible memory problems even though the total amount of sleep is not reduced8.

There are better polyphasic sleep schedules to attempt than Random sleep, with more consistency and more chance at successful adaptation as well as better sleep quality. 

COMPARISON between NON-REDUCING and REDUCING POLYPHASIC SCHEDULES

Non-reducing schedules

  • More flexibility to move sleep around without directly hurting the adaptation process.
  • Safe for underages. These individuals are still growing and need more sleep than adults, so non-reducing schedules (mostly Biphasic sleep) are safer choices if sleep times are kept consistent enough.
  • Easier adaptation. It takes longer to reach the adapted state, but the progress also induces much fewer adaptation symptoms since there is no sleep reduction that triggers the body’s reactions to sleep deprivation cues. So cognitive and physical performance during adaptation should remain intact.
  • More productivity during the daytime and a more proactive lifestyle (more heavy sports, more social time, alertness boost from entrained napping habits).
  • Resistant to travelling. Sleeps can be moved around these events accordingly (Biphasic-X/adapted E1/Siesta-extended) and short-term travelling (1-2 days) don’t usually pose big issues. In-progress adaptation can still be set back, but to a lesser degree.
  • Resistant to sickness. Total sleep will automatically return to the previous healthy state when the body has fully recovered without the need to use extensive alarm setups like on reducing sleep schedules. Adaptation can resume and is less affected than reducing sleep schedules.
  • Potential downside (1): Depending on personal goals, it may or may not be optimal to attempt to adapt to a non-reducing sleep schedule because it does not offer the extra waking hours, which is one of the most tempting premises of polyphasic sleeping.
  • Potential downside (2): Sleep is not repartitioned as much as on other polyphasic schedules, and may lower the chance to recall dreams (barring non-reduced Segmented which takes advantage of the sleep peaks).
  • Potential downside (3): Sleep onset is also expected to be longer compared to that of reducing sleep schedules, because of lower sleep pressure overall (e.g, it is common to fall asleep on E3 much faster than monophasic or E1). Therefore, falling asleep in naps can get more difficult and short naps are usually much lighter. 

Conclusively, non-reducing schedules are likely safe long-term (except completely random schedules), as all sleep stages are preserved. 

Reducing sleep schedules:

  • More waking hours per day.
  • Better energy, productivity and sleep quality once adapted
  • Vivid/Lucid dreaming. These schedules also promise more vivid dreams with REM naps, more chances to recall dreams to great details and much deeper sleeps thanks to repartitioning with a higher % of SWS and REM sleep and lower % of light sleep in all sleeps.
  • Flexibility after adaptation. Sleepers can learn to move sleep around without hurting or reversing the adaptation process after the body has gotten used to the pattern. This helps keep the structure and total sleep without hurting sleep quality. However, this requires a certain amount of time “adapting” to flexing with different sleep times each day. Flexibility is also more limited for extreme schedules. 
  • Potential downside (1): A strict adaptation regime is required for the body to learn to get in REM and SWS into different sleeps as sleep is reduced. Moving sleeps around during adaptation will only lead to failures because sleep is not stabilized and the body fails to recognize sleep times. Thus, it is necessary to plan ahead different important events in life if one attempts to adapt to a reducing sleep schedule. Adaptation can also be very difficult depending on schedules and other individual factors. 
  • Potential downside (2): Reversed adaptation. Extreme events that force certain sleeps to be skipped entirely or sickness for a couple days can reset the adapted state, reverting sleepers back to the previous sleep deprived stage. 

CONCLUSION

While it is common that sleepers want to gain extra hours awake each day by attempting polyphasic sleep, sometimes it is wiser to consider personal lifestyles thoroughly to determine if an extensive adaptation process is necessary. A more stable and fairly consistent non-reducing biphasic pattern like Biphasic-X can be more beneficial if one cannot determine or predict any life events during the first couple weeks of adaptation. Being unable to finish adapting to a polyphasic pattern can be very damaging to productivity, cognitive functions and overall well-being due to sleep deprivation. During exams or stressful events, it is also better to avoid reducing total sleep time entirely, as sleep deprivation will make things worse. Meanwhile, a non-reducing schedule can be chosen and start anytime without much consequence involved. A lack of motivation to stay awake more each day can justify a non-reducing sleep pattern to improve overall sleep structure, since lacking motivation to wake up will make adaptation a lot harder than it needs to be. While total sleep is not reduced, it is still worth considering a non-reducing biphasic pattern as part of polyphasic lifestyle – when daily napping routine grows to be consistent, the combination of a restful core sleep at night and a good daytime nap can outperform monophasic sleep in terms of regulating productivity and generating energy. 

To fully take advantage of polyphasic sleeping, non-reducing sleep schedules are only a last resort option to aim for more effective sleep other than monophasic sleep. Being able to sleep less and adapt to other schedules will give both extra wake time and productivity if the adaptation process can be completed. As a result, sleep-reducing schedules are still more appealing options. 

Main author: GeneralNguyen
Page last updated: 27 June 2020

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